PowerPoint helpful to some, bores others

Brittany Kent, Contributing Writer

Rather than students learning through spoken lectures, some professors and students said they consider PowerPoint lectures beneficial for students.

Pitt-Johnstown senior Danyel Coyne said he approves of professors using PowerPoint in the classroom.

“Being able to have a professor’s slides present while the professor is lecturing allows me to add additional notes.”

Other students also have found themselves benefiting from PowerPoint lectures rather than traditional spoken lectures. Pitt-Johnstown junior Josh Miller said he prefers PowerPoint lectures to help pay attention better.

“If the professor is talking, there has to be notes on the board, otherwise I do not pay attention.

“This method is important for us in engineering especially because we can understand the material covered in class.”

Students preferring PowerPoint lectures can use it as a backup. Freshman Meredith Wagner said she uses the PowerPoint lectures as a study guide.

“It is helpful to go back and look at the slides incase I missed class, the professor goes too fast or I did not understand something.”

Pitt-Johnstown management and marketing professor John McGrath said he uses PowerPoint to provide students with an outline and a backup resource.

“The PowerPoint slides identify exactly what we are covering in class; provide students with main points and offers links to go with the lesson. PowerPoint is user-friendly and is an efficient way to interact.”

There are times students miss classes, but PowerPoint lectures can be accessed by the student.

“If the students miss my class,” McGrath said, “I e-mail the students the PowerPoint lecture–exactly what the students saw in class, otherwise it is uploaded to my website.”

Other professors prefer using PowerPoint lectures to benefit audio and visual learners. Pitt-Johnstown professor Laura Williamson insists it enhances learning experiences and is an essential visual component.

“The PowerPoint lectures I use have embedded audio files for the students to hear the music and offer visuals for the students to see the music playing.”

Meanwhile, some professors, such as Pitt-Johnstown psychology professor Alan Teich, use PowerPoint to help cue the student’s memory.

“Learning is complex. By using PowerPoint, the students are able to use the slides to take extra notes and use as a study guide. Being able to see the slides gives the students something to look at, helping them visually memorize the material.”

However, Pitt-Johnstown sophomore Aaron Bruce said PowerPoint lectures take away from human interaction.

“A traditional speaking lecture makes me pay attention to the professor and the importance of the lecture.

“Having the professor present the material through traditional speaking lectures allows the professor to interact with the students instead of relying on what the PowerPoint is saying.”

Meanwhile, some students opposed PowerPoint lectures and questioned whether there is need for a professor. Junior Jake Sleppy does not like the use of PowerPoint lecture in the classroom.

“When professors read directly from the PowerPoint, I believe there is no need for the professor because I can read the PowerPoint on my own. By writing down what the professor is speaking, it forces me to think and then understand what the professor is saying.

“There is no difference between having the textbook and having a PowerPoint lecture besides being able to sit in my room.”

Some professors do not use PowerPoint lecture; these professors use traditional speaking lectures.

Pitt-Johnstown secondary education professor Mark Previte said he prefers to engage the students in the lecture rather than the students just copying information down from a slide.

“PowerPoint lectures provide less opportunity to be able to speak democratically. By eliminating PowerPoint lectures, the class can be opened up for discussion and allow the students to apply the skills they are learning.

“PowerPoint lectures take away from what I am trying to accomplish in the classroom and what I want the students to benefit from. PowerPoint is a tool, not the class.”

Other professors said PowerPoint lectures are a tool and are used on occasion. Communications professor Kristen Majocha said PowerPoint is an effective tool, however, not all classes need it.

“Using PowerPoint lectures depends on what the content of the professor’s lesson is. PowerPoint is not an interactive tool. PowerPoint is used for teaching a comprehensive body of information that even spoken slowly, the students could struggle understanding.”